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Blogging 101: Content Loves Design

Today’s assignment: open the Customizer and try out some new fonts and colors (and backgrounds and/or headers, if you’re still undecided).

Welcome to Blogging U! This course isn't currently active, but you can learn more about what we offer and register for upcoming courses on the BU home page.

Remember, comments are closed on Blogging U. assignments. If you have a question, or want to share or chat, head to The Commons.

You explored themes, played with backgrounds and headers, and test-drove some widgets. Now it’s time to learn more about the ways colors and fonts change the feeling of your content to ensure that your blog’s looks are supporting its tone.

Note: the goal of this task is not to sell you an upgrade, it’s to help you understand the interplay between content and design so you can make decisions about how to display your work to its best advantage. Today is about play, exploration, and inspiration.

Today’s assignment: open the Customizer and try out some new fonts and colors (and backgrounds and/or headers, if you’re still undecided).

Why do this?

  • Making a theme your own is an ongoing process that benefits from experimentation.
  • Previewing different options will help you understand how your content and your site’s design are connected.
  • A customized site that feels like yours is one where you’re more likely to publish regularly.

Unlike the simple printed page of a book, a blog’s design influences the tone and mood of your words (or images). Colors can be warm or cool, light or heavy, bold or subdued. Fonts can be elegant, playful, or stark. Some combinations are busy, others calming. All these elements can work with you words — or against them. Understanding how design elements interact with your content lets you look at your blog holistically, and use all the elements of a blog to tell your story the way you want it told.

First, find all your customizing options: open the Customizer by going to your blog, hovering over “My Sites” in the black admin, and clicking  “Customize” in the drop-down menu (to open it from your dashboard, had to Appearance → Customize). You’ll see tabs for colors, fonts, theme options, widgets, and more, depending on your theme. Update anything to see the change in real time on your blog (only you will see these — your readers will still see your regular ol’ blog). Click “Cancel,” and everything returns to the way it was.

Wondering what CSS is and why it’s useful? This post will help.

Some themes come with free options, like alternate color schemes and layouts, that you’ll also be able to play with in the Customizer; you can also try creating a static home page. Custom ColorsCustom Fonts, and Custom CSS are part of the premium upgrade, but even if you don’t plan to purchase an upgrade, you can preview changes to get new ideas about your blog’s look.

Then, we’d like you to focus on the visual elements that make the most powerful — and immediate — impact on your site’s look. Try out a new color palette or a sleek font for your blog, and see how it changes the feel and readability of your content. You’d be shocked by how radically different your posts will read in different fonts. With colors, you can change your blog’s vibe by experimenting with different palettes, from hushed grays to in-your-face purples.

If you have the premium upgrade, click “Save” to lock your changes in place. If you don’t have the upgrade, note what changes you like, and think about how you can work those colors and feelings into your header or the images you use in your posts, pages, and sidebar.

Even if you end up where you started or are only able to preview, you’ll have gained insight into the ways your content is best displayed, and how your posts and your design feed off off each other. You might come away with new ideas about your header or background, a way to use photos in your posts to create an emotion, some image widgets you’d like to change, or a sense of how to better arrange your sidebar.

This is a great day to see feedback in The Commons — getting an outsider’s perspective on the feeling your blog gives off is invaluable.

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